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TitleJournalists : to license or not to license…
Author(s)Fidalgo, Joaquim
Issue date2008
PublisherInternational Association for Media and Communication Research (IAMCR)
Abstract(s)The existence or absence of some legal or professional pre-conditions for someone to be allowed to work as a journalist has been a reason for many controversies along the last decades – actually, since the very beginning of the efforts to establish journalism as a legitimate (and legitimized) ‘profession’, rather than an ‘occupation’ or a craft. The obligation to have some kind of license to work as a professional journalist exists in some countries (in Portugal, for example) but doesn’t exist – and, moreover, that simple idea is strongly criticized – in other countries. Those who oppose to any kind of license emphasize the importance of keeping journalism as an ‘open’ profession, accessible to any citizen, under the main argument that it is an activity grounded on the right to freedom of expression – a fundamental and universal right. Those who favour some kind of license or pre-requisite to become a journalist underscore the social relevance and sensitiveness of this job in order to fulfil another fundamental right of every citizen – the right to information (to a truthful, independent, accurate and comprehensive information on the actuality). And, because of that, they stress the importance of having well-prepared, professionalized, ethically responsible and accountable people working as journalists, in order to properly meet such a demanding right. In this paper, we try to review and discuss the arguments for and against this subject, putting it in historical perspective and balancing it with the new questions faced by journalism in the digital Internet era we are living now. Furthermore, we argue that a decisive issue in this debate is ‘who’ might (if so) have the responsibility to grant this professional license and look for its adequate use. In our opinion, this seems to be typically a matter for professional self-regulation, rather than state or government regulation, in order to keep and safeguard the values of freedom of expression and freedom of the press. On the other hand, the values of responsibility and accountability in journalism must be somehow kept and safeguarded as well, if the journalists’ professional group – or those engaged in journalism in its multiple possible forms – really wants to recover some lost credibility and confidence by the public. For this purpose, a real commitment with some requirements usually associated to professionalism – commitment with professional standards and techniques, but, more than that, commitment with a public interest and with clear ethical principles, values and norms – is a major challenge for journalists.
TypeConference paper
AccessOpen access
Appears in Collections:CECS - Atas em congressos | Seminários / conference proceedings

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